February 22nd, 2012
By: David Martin
Nearly three decades in the making, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced its landmark dioxin assessment with the conclusion: “Generally, over a person’s lifetime, current exposure to dioxins does not pose a significant health risk.”
But Dr. Arnold J. Schecter, a University of Texas professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, says dioxins pose a risk for fetuses, newborns and people with immune deficiencies such as AIDS patients.
“Some people are going to be more susceptible because they receive a higher dose or they’re more sensitive,” says Dr. Schecter, who served on an EPA advisory panel on dioxins.
Dioxins are a class of highly toxic chemicals released into the environment by industrial production, waste incineration and forest fires. The chemicals get into the food chain and accumulate in animal fat.
Air emissions of dioxins in the United States have decreased 90% since 1987, thanks to the EPA, state and industry efforts, the agency said Friday. Even so, some dioxins are now present in every man, woman and child on the planet.
The EPA characterizes dioxins as “likely” carcinogens. They are also linked to developmental and reproductive problems, damage to the immune system, hormone disruption, skin rashes and discoloration, and mild liver damage.
Fetuses and newborns have diets relatively high in fat and their bodies are still developing, putting them at greater risk for health problems related to dioxins, Schecter says, as are people whose immune systems are already compromised.
Animal fat in the diet accounts for close to 90% of dioxin exposure in the United States, according to a 2003 National Academies of Science report on dioxins in the food supply.
With the new assessment, the EPA set the threshold for safe dioxin exposure at a toxicity equivalence (TEQ) of 0.7 picograms per kilogram of body weight per day.
Stephen Lester, science director for the Center for Health Environment & Justice, says young children may routinely be exposed to higher levels through their diets.
Lester points to the National Academies report, which found the average 1 to 5 year old’s diet contained 1.09 TEQ. Boys and girls 6 to 11 years old averaged .69 TEQ.
“The EPA has mentioned that the levels in the air are going down and we’ve made great improvements and that we’ve got the problem under control, but that’s not what’s going on here,” Lester says.
Research published in 2009 put the average TEQ exposure for all Americans at .54 TEQ, assuming an average body weight of 165 pounds.
Dioxins cannot be washed off foods. Eating less or leaner meat, chicken and fish; low-fat or fat-free cheese and yogurt; and drinking skim milk will lower the dioxin content of the typical American diet, Schecter says.
“We’re lucky. The same thing that’s good for protecting our hearts and our brains from heart attacks and strokes will also protect us from the toxic effects of dioxins.”
In addition to cutting fat out of the diet, CHEJ also recommends eating grain or grass fed beef. Lester says some cattle are given feed that contains animal fat, essentially recycling the dioxins.
The EPA says the amount of dioxin in food will go decline as dioxin levels in the environment go down.
The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture monitor dioxin in food and feed. A USDA survey of dioxins in meat is expected to be released in 2013.
“Given the success of the current dioxin reduction program, and the low levels of risk posed for consumers, additional regulatory changes by USDA or recommendations to avoid particular foods are unwarranted at this time,” a USDA spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.
The 344-page EPA dioxin assessment looked only at non-cancer risks. A second report on dioxins’ cancer risks will follow. No date has been set.
February 17th, 2012
By: AP News
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul decried the “war on drugs” Thursday night, telling supporters in Washington state that people should be able to make their own decisions on such matters.
Voters in Washington are likely to decide this year whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana
“If we are allowed to deal with our eternity and all that we believe in spiritually, and if we’re allowed to read any book that we want under freedom of speech, why is it we can’t put into our body whatever we want?” Paul told more than 1,000 people at a rally in Vancouver, a suburb of Portland, Ore.
Paul did not mention his rivals for the Republican nomination but criticized President Barack Obama for killing American citizens with suspected terrorist ties and for expanding federal regulations. Paul
The Texas congressman said he wasn’t sure if he’d win the GOP nomination and tries not to predict the future but added that he’s encouraged by the enthusiasm of his supporters.
“People who are strong believers in issues and ideas and principals, they do lead the way,” he said.
Paul is the second Republican to hold a major public event in Washington. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was in Olympia and Tacoma on Monday. Washington’s caucuses are scheduled for March 3.
Some in the Vancouver audience came from neighboring Oregon, which has a primary set for May 15.
Paul was spending Thursday campaigning in Idaho and Washington and has rallies planned Friday in Richland and Spokane. He is expected to hit most of Washington’s media markets before the state’s nonbinding caucuses.
For The Full Report Go To Drudge Report
February 17th, 2012
By: Aaron Smith
The healthcare company McNeil is recalling more than half a million bottles of Infants’ Tylenol because of consumer complaints about the difficulties of using the dosing system.
McNeil is recalling about 574,000 bottles after receiving a “small number” of complaints regarding the so-called “dosing syringe” of the orally-administered over-the-counter painkiller. The company said that in some cases the “flow restrictor was pushed into the bottle when inserting the syringe.”
The recall applies to one-ounce bottles of grape-flavored Infants’ Tylenol Oral Suspension.
The company said there have been “no adverse events” from the problem and that “the risk of series adverse medical event is remote.”
The company said that consumers can continue to use the product, despite the voluntary recall, so long as the flow restrictor remains in place at the top of the bottle.
McNeil, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, Fortune 500), has had numerous recalls in the recent past, especially with Tylenol.
The U.S. government took over three Tylenol plants last year for failure to comply with federally-mandated manufacturing procedures.
Click Here For The Full Report From CNN
January 24th, 2011
By: Jeff Rumage
Kelly Davis was pulled over in the middle of the night for swerving and hitting a curb, and even though she failed a sobriety test, her defense attorney says she shouldn’t be cited with operating while intoxicated.
That’s because the 22-year-old college student had taken two to three Ambien sleep-aid pills and went “sleep driving,” her attorney, Craig Mastantuono, said during a municipal trial Wednesday night.
With her sweatpants on and her cat perched on her shoulder, Davis was not on the way home from a bar or a party.
“She was in sweatpants. It was the middle of the night” when she left her apartment on the east side of Milwaukee and went sleep driving, Mastantuono said.
There was no indication Davis was doing anything recreational that evening, Mastantuono said.
Davis was cited for operating left of center and operating under the influence of a controlled substance. The citations could cost Davis up to $1,000 in fines and points off her license.
At the municipal trial, Elizabeth Miles, a village prosecutor, said Davis was in no condition to drive, and that village statutes do not broach the issue of whether she intended to drive or not.
She also said Davis took two to three times the amount of Ambien prescribed to her.
“She decided to take two, maybe three pills; two, maybe three times the prescribed dosage, and now we see what the results are,” Miles said.
Mastantuono said the medication was still within therapeutic range. He said Davis was “involuntarily intoxicated,” and since citations are aimed at deterrence, it would be inappropriate to cite someone who had no intent in the first place.
“It’s clear to me this is somebody that, yes, shouldn’t be on the road operating the vehicle, and I agree with that, but no, as to the question of whether she was acting on her own volition or decision-making,” he said.
Municipal Court Judge Paul Christensen said he will present his oral decision within 30 days.
The issue of intoxicated driving is close to the heart of Paul Jenkins, a Mequon man who was at the trial. His stepdaughter, Jennifer Bukosky, was killed in 2009 after a driver under the influence of prescription pills smashed his sports utility vehicle into the back of her vehicle at a red light in Oconomowoc.
Bukosky was pregnant at the time, and her 10-year-old daughter also died in the crash.
Jenkins has advocated for the reform of driving under the influence laws, and he said statistics show first-time offenders are more likely to cause fatal accidents.
“There’s not a whit of difference between the two (accidents),” Jenkins said. “This was a first-time offender that got lucky for herself and others that nobody was hurt.”
December 27th, 2010
By: Melanie Grimes
Amino acids found in watermelon have been shown to lower blood pressure. In addition to healthy vitamins and minerals, watermelon contains two amino acids, L-arginine and L-citrulline, that reduce hypertension.
Other Natural Blood Pressure Lowering Foods
Other foods have also been shown to lower blood pressure. Bananas can lower hypertension, as can raisins, beets and even chocolate.
Researchers at Florida State University used a concentrated extract of watermelon for the research on nine subjects. The dosage used in the study was six grams of the combined watermelon amino acids. After six weeks, all of the participants, 100 percent, showed reduced blood pressure. The study concluded that watermelon could be used by people who have pre-hypertension to keep the condition from progressing to high blood pressure. This means that eating watermelon may allow those at risk for heart disease to avoid taking preventative blood pressure lowering medications that are usually prescribed.
Blood Pressure Prevention Medication Side Effects
Pharmaceutical drugs are frequently prescribed for those with a tendency towards high blood pressure, a condition called pre-hypertension. These medications have been shown to have numerous side effects, including potassium loss that leads to an increased risk of diabetes. Other side effects, reported by Johns Hopkins University, include constipation, frequent urination, headaches, digestive upset, dizziness, and a tendency to dehydration, which causes a number of health issues in itself. Watermelon, on the other hand, has no known side effects.
Watermelon Contains Vitamins and Lycopene
Watermelon also contains healthy nutrients, such as vitamins A, vitamin C and vitamin B6, along with potassium and fiber. Watermelon also contains lycopene, the nutrient plentiful in tomatoes that has been show to have numerous health benefits. Lycopene is an antioxidant. Eating foods high in lycopene has been shown to reduce the incidence of many types of cancer, including breast cancer and prostate cancer. Lycopene has been shown to prevent heart attacks both in studies at John Hopkins University and in international studies. Though tomatoes were used in the studies, other foods known to be rich in lycopene are watermelons, grapefruits, apricots and guavas.
Watermelon Mechanism of Action
Watermelon lowers blood pressure because of its action in production of nitric oxide, researchers surmise. This is because L-citrulline in the watermelon is converted into L-arginine, which is then used to make nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps control blood pressure.
L-Arginine Alone is Not Enough
Taking the amino acids L-arginine by itself is not an effective treatment for high blood pressure, nor is it recommended because the amino acid is not easy to digest and can cause digestive problems, including diarrhea.
Watermelon Dosage to Prevent High Blood Pressure
The dosage used in the watermelon study was four to six grams of watermelon extract, but a healthier alternative is to add raw watermelon to the diet.
August 23rd, 2010
By: Jonathon Benson
Corruption and fraud in the drug industry is nothing new, but a new report to be presented at the 105th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association reveals that most new pharmaceutical drugs offer practically no benefits and a whole lot of negative side effects.
Donald Light, sociologist, professor of comparative health policy at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and author of the new study, explains that the drug industry as a whole produces all sorts of “lemon” drugs that do not work, whose efficacy has not been proven and whose manufacturers are protected from responsibility by industry protection laws.
“Sometimes drug companies hide or downplay information about serious side effects of new drugs and overstate the drugs’ benefits,” he said in a press release. “Then, they spend two or three times more on marketing than on research to persuade doctors to prescribe these new drugs. Doctors may get misleading information and then misinform patients about the risks of a new drug.”
According to an independent review, only about 15 percent of new drugs even work as stated, and most new drugs — whether they offer a benefit or not — come with serious side effects that are now a significant cause of death in the U.S.
The report explains that drug companies deliberately expose large amounts of people to ineffective, harmful drugs in trials, but skew them to make it look as if the drugs are effective. They then submit hosts of incomplete, inaccurate data to the FDA for approval, followed by large marketing campaigns designed to convince doctors to prescribe the newly approved drugs for both approved and unapproved uses.
According to the report, an analysis of 111 final drug applications revealed that 42 percent were missing adequate randomized trials, 40 percent had inaccurate dosage testing, 39 percent failed to show drug efficacy, and roughly half revealed the drugs to have serious adverse side effects.
Light also emphasized that, because drug companies control both the scientific testing process and the selection of which tests get submitted to the FDA or get published, the entire process is biased and flawed.
January 18, 2010
By Mike Adams
A recent study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine has revealed that nearly all hospital patients do not know what drugs are being administered to them. The research revealed that nearly half think thought they were receiving one type of medication when they were actually receiving another and only four percent were able to identify at least one drug they received during their time there.
Researchers from the University of Colorado at Denver’s School of Medicine conducted the study to evaluate whether or not hospital patients understood what treatments they were receiving while under professional medical care. Each participant claimed to be aware of his or her outpatient medications and all were coherent and reasonably informed. What the study revealed was that most patients do not know what drugs they are being given and the few that care to or believe they know are often misinformed.
About one in five hospital medication treatments was also found to be wrong, with either an improper dosage or an incorrect drug being administered. Since the patient is the last stop before a drug is administered, researchers are stressing the importance of patient awareness concerning drug therapies in order to avoid grave errors that could inflict serious harm.
Once out of the hospital, less than 15 percent of patients over age 65 could identify the medications they were told to take. Only 40 percent of those under 65 could properly identify theirs.
Study authors believe that increased patient responsibility and awareness about given and prescribed treatments is necessary in order to prevent medical errors and their potential for serious injury.
Comments by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
This research reveals the sad, sad state of western health care. The statistic that one in five medication treatments were incorrect is nothing short of astounding. That means 20% of the drugs patients are given in the hospital are either the wrong drugs or the wrong doses.
Astonishing. No wonder so many people die in hospitals!
The other part of this research is just as startling: Most patients didn’t even know what drugs they were being given! This speaks to the incredible dis-empowerment of patients in a western medical setting. When patients don’t even know what medicines they’re being given, it puts all the power in the hands of doctors and medical staff. And this study demonstrates that even medical staff all too frequently make mistakes that can be deadly.
The bottom line is obvious: Don’t go to a hospital except as a last resort. Hospitals are dangerous places where frequent mistakes can easily lead to you being harmed or killed by carelessly-administered pharmaceuticals.
And don’t expect to be kept informed of what’s happening to you at the hospital, either. Real communication between doctors and patients is virtually nonexistent (because they’re too busy to spend more than about two minutes with each patient).
December 18, 2009
By E. Huff
A federal lawsuit has been filed against pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca for its role in paying Chicago psychiatrist Dr. Michael Reinstein nearly $500,000 over the course of a decade to conduct research and to promote its anti-psychotic drug, Seroquel. Reinstein is being accused of wrongfully preying on thousands of mentally-ill patients in order to rake in profits for AstraZeneca.
Reinstein has a long history of working with AstraZeneca, receiving regular payments for speeches he would make across the country promoting the drug. AstraZeneca was also paying a for-profit research company, Uptown Research Institute, who in turn was paying Reinstein consulting fees for his services.
Cited in the lawsuit was the fact that Reinstein would continually prescribe roughly double the amount of drugs other psychiatrists would prescribe for the same conditions. When patients would report their pain and suffering due to the tremendous side effects of such drugs and their abnormally high dosages, Reinstein would largely ignore their concerns.
Other accusations include illegitimately prescribing Seroquel for various other conditions, including losing weight, despite the fact that studies show the drug actually causes weight gain. Reinstein was found to have made numerous false claims about Seroquel in promotional material, claims that would result in the destruction of people’s lives and health.
When all was said and done, more than 1,000 patients a year received Seroquel prescriptions from Reinstein at a cost of $7.6 million to taxpayers. It is unknown how many billions of dollars AstraZeneca has made from the widespread efforts of Reinstein in promoting the drug nationwide for all those years.
Despite all of his wrongdoings, Reinstein is not even a defendant in the case. AstraZeneca, the perpetrator which funded Reinstein, is the defendant in the lawsuit. While both Reinstein and AstraZeneca appear guilty of unethical and illegal behavior, AstraZeneca is rightfully bearing the brunt as it knowingly continued to fund Reinstein and rake in the profits of his misconduct.
August 24, 2009
The Washington Post
By Rob Stein
Government health officials are mobilizing to launch a massive swine flu vaccination campaign this fall that is unprecedented in its scope — and in the potential for complications.
The campaign aims to vaccinate at least half the country’s population within months. Although more people have been inoculated against diseases such as smallpox and polio over a period of years, the United States has never tried to immunize so many so quickly.
But even as scientists rush to test the vaccine to ensure it is safe and effective, the campaign is lagging. Officials say only about a third as much vaccine as they had been expecting by mid-October is likely to arrive by then, when a new wave of infections could be peaking.
Among the unknowns: how many shots people will need, what the correct dosage should be, and how to avoid confusing the public with an overlapping effort to combat the regular seasonal flu.
To prepare, more than 2,800 local health departments have begun recruiting pediatricians, obstetricians, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics and even dentists, along with a small army of volunteers from churches and other groups. They are devising strategies to reach children, teenagers, pregnant women and young and middle-aged adults in inner cities, suburban enclaves and the countryside.
“This is potentially the largest mass-vaccination program in human history,” said Howard Markel, a professor of medical history at the University of Michigan who is advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as it spearheads the effort.
Public health officials describe the effort as crucial to defend against the second wave of the Northern Hemisphere’s first influenza pandemic in 41 years.
As schools reopen, the number of cases could jump sharply within weeks, sparking a second wave potentially far larger than the outbreak last spring. Although the swine flu appears no more dangerous than the typical seasonal flu, the new virus — known as H1N1 — is likely to infect many more people because most have no immunity against it.
The vaccine effort carries political risks for the Obama administration. “If the outbreak fizzles, they will be susceptible to being criticized for spending billions of dollars,” said Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, which advises Congress about medical issues. “On the other hand, if this outbreak is early and severe and there isn’t enough vaccine, they’ll be criticized for under-preparation.”
Officials stress that they are proceeding cautiously. A final decision to move forward will not be made until they get the results of clinical trials — testing to determine safety and dosing — and assess the virus’s threat. But officials are confident the vaccine will pass muster and expect a campaign will be launched as soon as manufacturers deliver the first vials.
“There’s little doubt we’re going to vaccinate people,” said Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is leading the government’s testing of the vaccine. “Who and when and exactly how — we have to figure out.”
The campaign is haunted by memories of the government’s ill-fated 1976 effort to vaccinate against swine flu. The epidemic fizzled, but the vaccine was given to 40 million people and blamed for causing a rare paralyzing disorder known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
Another wild card will be whether the vaccine will be delivered with an “adjuvant” to boost its effectiveness or stretch limited supplies into more doses. Adjuvants have been used in Europe, but the Food and Drug Administration has not authorized their use in the United States.
“This is an overreaction,” said Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center, which opposes many vaccine policies. “There is no national security threat here. Why are we operating like this? This is not polio. This is not smallpox.”
Fears and misinformation about the vaccine are circulating, including inaccurate claims that it will be mandatory.
“I’m very concerned about the dangers of vaccines,” said Janice Smith, 58, of Misawaka, Ind., who attended a public hearing Aug. 15, one of a series of meetings the CDC has sponsored to gauge public sentiment about the vaccine.
Authorities are adamant that vaccination will be voluntary, and they say there is no reason to think the vaccine will be any less safe than the usual flu vaccine. An adjuvant will be used only if necessary and proven safe, they say.
To address concerns of pregnant women and parents with young children, some vaccine is being produced without a mercury additive. And because the short-term studies can identify only common, immediate side effects, the CDC will step up monitoring for rarer, serious complications such as Guillain-Barré.
“We’re putting into place systems that are as good as we can have to identify problems quickly if they do occur,” CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden said.
On Friday, officials reported that no “red flags regarding safety” had emerged in the clinical trials. “We are continuing oversight on the quality and safety of the vaccine being produced, and the production process itself,” said Jesse Goodman of the FDA. “That’s going well so far, but our oversight is continuing.”
In the meantime, local officials are drafting plans tailored to their communities. The shots in the arms and squirts up the nose will happen in schools, medical offices, hospitals, public health clinics, workplaces, drug stores and at mass vaccination events, possibly including drive-through clinics in parking lots where people would stick their arms out their car windows for a stab.
“It is clearly what we would call an all hands on deck,” said James Blumenstock of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “We’re not starting from scratch, but we also don’t have everything on the shelf that we can just pull off and put in place. It’s a full-court press in moving forward to have everything in place when we’re ready to go.”
In Maryland, officials estimate that 2.9 million people fall into the priority groups for the vaccine; Virginia estimates the number at 2.5 million and the District at 225,000. The national total is about 159 million people.
Public health departments “have suffered from decades of neglect and are now facing a fiscal crisis in many places where they have had to lay staff off, or furlough staff or freeze hiring,” Frieden said. “So H1N1 has not come at a particularly good time.”
Setting priorities for delivering the vaccines will bring other complications. The elderly, usually first in line for flu shots, will not be this time because they seem more resistant to the virus. But they remain a top priority for the seasonal shots.
Schools considering giving shots to children are making plans to get permission from parents and have to determine how best to line up anxious, rambunctious students.
Everyone who gets a swine flu shot may need a booster several weeks later, potentially causing mix-ups about who got which shot when.
But Frieden and other outside observers expressed confidence that the program would be safe and successful.
The federal government has spent close to $2 billion to buy up to 195 million doses of vaccine and adjuvant, including the standard shots and the newer FluMist nasal spray vaccine made by MedImmune of Gaithersburg.
The government is prepared to buy enough to vaccinate every person — 600 million doses all together — if the pandemic or demand warrants it. That could increase the cost to $5 billion for the vaccine alone. It would cost at least $9 billion to administer the vaccine to the entire population, according to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
Although five companies are racing to produce as much vaccine as possible, the first batches are not expected for two months, in part because the virus grew at about half the projected rate. Production appears to be increasing, but the first 45 million to 52 million doses — about a third of what officials were anticipating — won’t be ready until mid-October, with about 20 million doses a week expected after that to continue the campaign through the winter.
Experts are uncertain whether they will face a shortage of vaccine because of high demand or will have plenty of vaccine but little interest.
“People’s enthusiasm will depend largely on what they see happening around them,” Fauci said. “If we get into the fall season and we don’t see an explosion of cases, people will be less enthusiastic. If they see a lot of young people and kids getting sick, people will be very enthusiastic about getting vaccinated.”
The CDC is formulating a $4.8 million multimedia campaign to encourage people to get vaccinated and help alleviate concerns and confusion, including radio and television public service announcements, print ads, and messages delivered via Twitter, RSS feeds and video podcasts on YouTube.
Although the vaccine will be free, providers could charge about $15 to administer it — a fee that will be covered by Medicare and many health insurance plans.
Experts also worry the swine flu will divert attention from the seasonal flu, which can cause serious illness. Officials will launch the seasonal flu vaccine campaign Sept. 10 — about a month early in the hopes of vaccinating as many people as possible before the swine flu campaign. The more people who get both vaccines, the less likely the swine flu virus will mingle with one of the others to produce a more dangerous mutant.
“We really don’t want those ugly viruses mixing together,” said Kim Elliott of the Trust for America’s Health, a private nonprofit research and advocacy group.
August 24, 2009
CSL Ltd started testing its swine flu vaccine on U.S. children and adults on Monday, joining other companies testing the H1N1 vaccine as they also step up production.
The Australian-based company said it would test 1,300 adults and 450 children with different doses of its vaccine to help determine what the best dose will be.
“Children are often at greater risk from influenza infection and its complications than adults, so it is extremely important to understand the efficacy of an H1N1 vaccine in this very vulnerable population,” Dr. Pedro Piedra of Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, who will help conduct the trial, said in a statement.
“The clinical trials of CSL’s candidate vaccine will be the first to use a thimerosal-free formulation of the H1N1 vaccine antigen.”
Some people object to the use of thimerosal, which is a mercury-based preservative. U.S. health officials say there is no evidence to support persistent beliefs that thimerosal causes autism, but companies have removed it from most vaccines anyway.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said only 45 million doses of the new H1N1 vaccine would be on hand in mid-October, instead of 120 million previously forecast, with 20 million a week due after that.
HHS plans to eventually vaccinate at least 160 million people by December, with pregnant women, health-care workers, children and young adults at the front of the line.
Five companies are making the H1N1 vaccine for the U.S. market — AstraZeneca’s MedImmune unit, CSL, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Novartis AG and Sanofi-Aventis SA. Sanofi has also started trials in the United States and several companies, including Glaxo, have trials ongoing in Europe.